GALION -- Galion boys basketball coach Matt Valentine has two years of seasoning under his belt, with three starters and five lettermen on his roster heading into the upcoming season.
The Tigers were 8-13 overall last season, including a 5-9 mark in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. Valentine is 11-35 overall.
Valentine's favorite word heading into 2018-19 is pressure, particularly at the defensive end, where he'll deploy his squad in a man-to-man philosophy.
The coach shared some of the following thoughts on this year's team:
X-factors that we feel will contribute to our team’s success
We return 3 key players from last year’s team. We will be a more experienced, resilient team this season. Our X factor this season will be our up tempo, quick-hitting style on both ends of the court where we plan to play hard and fast, allowing the kids to show their ability.
Players to watch
Junior Isaiah Alsip, who was the second-leading scorer in the league last season, returns as a two-year starter. He is coming off an unbelievable, record-setting football season where he led the area in receiving and set a new Galion School record for a single season at 1,012 yards, in a very tough competitive MOAC. He has gotten stronger and faster, and will be a handful for anyone that tries to contain him this year.
He may be the best athlete in the league this year. He can shoot the ball from anywhere and has excellent court vision, but what he has not shown the league yet is his ability to attack the rim. With his increased strength and speed, this is what we expect from Isaiah, along with him stepping up to be one of our leaders on the team.
Senior Gage Lackey, is a returning starter who will outplay anyone, any chance he gets. With Lackey’s energy, length, and the ability to score around the rim, he will be a big part of our success this season. I look for Lackey to average close to a double – double this season. We will need him to score and rebound, and to be a threat on both ends of the court.
Senior Jack McElligott is also a returning starter for us. Jack is coming off of a golf season where his team made it to the State Tournament, with Jack being one of the top golfers on the team and in the area. Jack will be able to play under pressure. Jack brings length, basketball IQ to our team. He will be one of our leaders. Jack can also shoot the ball for a high percentage. More importantly, he has the ability to get to the rim and finish as good as anyone on the team.
Finally, Senior Tristan Williams is a returning letterman this year. Seniors tend to play at a different level, a lot of this is being Self Confidence. We need just that from Tristan for us to accomplish our number 1 goal. We will need Tristan to get up and down the floor, rebound the basketball, and score on the block, which he has shown he can.
Our strength this season will be our experience and scoring ability, returning five lettermen. High school basketball is a long season.
Weakness will be depth; Kids get hurt, kids get sick. If this happens, we will have some young players that will have to step up and be ready to go.
Junior Stephen Thompson has decided to come out this season. Stephen is a great soccer player who is, in my opinion, the best goalie in the area. Stephen gives us that “true post player” that Galion has lacked for years. His size, strength, ability to get up and down the floor, is the piece we need.